The Tenth Beatitude
John waited patiently in the damp cell for return of his friends from an audience with Jesus. The guard had relatives who had visited John at the waters of baptism. It seemed strange to him that such a well-intentioned man should be locked away as a threat to Herod's family. Only fitting that John should have some liberty in visitors.
The Baptist, through long hours of loneliness, rehearsed that day when Jesus had visited the Jordan and the revelation had come. The humble immersion. The appearance of the dove. The voice from glory stating, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
His preparation of repentance had benefited large crowds, and the Nazarene was now on the move exhorting children of Israel to repent "and believe the Gospel". How John delighted in imagining the scene of Jesus under blue skies addressing large crowds on the subject of the Kingdom of the Heavenly Father, and His marching orders.
John had sensed no other calling, under the circumstances of his imprisonment, than to pray for the success of the new rabbi. But the staightenings of the jail, the isolation, the inconsistent news of Herod's intentions, the prisoner's diet, the end of the great outdoors all pounded away at the prisoner's resolve. Would his mission prove fruitful? Would he ever know?
And so he had instructed the two men to make their way to Jesus and to ask one more time whether He was in fact the Messiah, or should they wait for another?
And now ... the sound of heavy footsteps, some mumbled conversation, the jangling of keys and the incoming torchlight. They were here!
"Did you see Him? What is the word, friends? Please, quickly!"
The iron door groans. The visitors enter. He grabs a shoulder of each with trail-worn withered hands and searches the faces imploringly.
"Brother John, He greeted us with a smile, heard your inquiry, and simply stated, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
And BLESSED is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me."
The prisoner let out a slow sigh, slumping forward as if to hang from their shoulders now. His mind journeyed through the promises of prophetic burden which had been his staple for years in the wilderness. What was the Master's intention?
Then it hit him. The words of Isaiah, perhaps the greatest of all prophets:
"3Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.
4Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.
5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert." (Isaiah 35)
No...John would not be offended. His work was accomplished. His Saviour had come. His soul was secure. Come what may.
See the Short Story blog initiated February, 2013